Campó – Countryside – Rural Town
El Campó lifestyle is something special, it’s a slower pace and a humble lifestyle. Latrines and outdoor showers are typical and indoor plumbing is a luxury. When we bring medical teams to a campo to set up clinics for a few days it’s important to quiet your mind and prepare yourself for any situation. The most important thing to do is to humble yourself and assimilate to what your host family’s norm.
The first time I used a latrine was a couple weeks ago. It’s a lot better than what I had in mind, it was small but clean. The goal is to get in and get out, quickly. When I was dropped off at my host mom’s place, the first thing I took note of was the outdoor shower so I mentally prepared myself for a cold bucket shower. She showed me to the room I would be sharing with one of the doctors but before she left she pulled back a magical curtain and showed us the indoor bathroom. We had hit the holy grail of homes.
Our clinic days went pretty smoothly and a lot of people showed up, we ended seeing more patients than we planned. My role on clinic days simplified is making sure everything runs smoothly for the medical teams and to do intake for the patients… in Spanish. It actually went better than one would assume. When I have only one subject to focus on in Spanish I can pretty much handle it.
The campo we went to was near the border and is called Vaca Gorda- “Fat Cow”. Being near the border I expected more Haitians and was sadly disappointed when I wasn’t introduced them. The characteristics of this community was a darker complexion than other areas of the DR, so I was really surprised that I didn’t hear any creole being spoken. When I had some time I ask the health promoter, our contact in the community, if there were any Haitians in this particular community and he said no, and said when they do come it’s just to work and then they leave.
But something interesting happened after doing so much intake, I started seeing little hints of a Haitian background in their names. They screamed Haitian even though they all had Hispanic last name. Maybe I’m forcing it but I do think they definitely have a Haitian background but just lost their culture through generation and that’s okay b/c it lives through in their names and their physical characteristics. In a culture that has so much hostility for the darker tone complexion and for their Haitian neighbors it makes sense for people to want to hide their background and assimilate to the Dominican culture but I can’t help but be sadden by it and hope that one day this won’t always be true.
On a chipper note, I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN! A typical person from a mountainous terrain might call it a hill but I’m from Florida…so it’s a mountain. After an afternoon of clinics we decided to hike up one of the mountainsides and found our way to a nearby river. We were lead by some experts from the community, a group of 6-10 year olds. The hike was a slight struggle compared to how easily the kids went up in their flip flops. But when we got to the top, the view was impeccable and breathtaking. The panting and the sweat was worth it. After taking the time to enjoy the scenery and take a gazillion pictures, we followed the kids to the river.
The second we got to the river, the children started jumping in. I love kids and even more, I love the sound of happy, laughing kids. So we sat around the river and just let the kids play. When we decided we were ready to head back, the smallest of the group decided to lead us back. We argued along the way whether he was 4 or 6. But we were also a little weary of following this kid, what if he got us lost? But his little man knew exactly where we was going and he was driven to get us back.
When you spend times in campos it’s easy to only see all that the community lacks but if you really take the time to open up your eyes you’ll see all the things they have, a sense of community, the assurance of knowing that if you let your kids hike over the mountain and out of your sight, that they’ll be back before sundown. There’s something peaceful about that and I love it!!